CHEF CLAUDIA’S CLASSIC STUFFED PEPPERS
March 22, 2019
Claudia is our Deli Chef in the South Boston Foodie’s Market. She has been in the Foodie’s family for a number of years; working first in the Duxbury store. She is a master at producing large quantities of beautiful, tasty food. She knows what the customers want and exceeds their expectations.
These stuffed peppers ‘fly-out’ of the case; with some customers even calling ahead to ‘reserve’ their weekly portion.
- Prep: 40 mins
- Cook: 10 mins
- Yields: 8 peppers
8 each bell peppers: about 3-inch diameter, ‘squarish’ shape, colorful (the red, yellow and orange peppers are sweeter than the green)
1 Spanish or white onion, finely diced to yield about 1 cup
2-3 stalks celery, finely diced to yield about ½ cup
diced pepper ‘tops’ (see below*)
2-3 ‘almond-sized cloves of fresh garlic (peeled, chopped and mashed to a paste)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon ground cumin seed
2-3 tablespoons chili powder, ‘heat’ to your liking
Optional: pinch of cayenne
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1-pound ground beef
1-15 ounce can plum or diced tomatoes, drained
¾ cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
¾ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 cups cooked white or brown rice, room temperature
6 ounces grated yellow cheddar cheese, divided
Sliced scallions and or chopped parsley for garnish
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Begin by cooking the rice: 1 cup raw rice will yield approximately 2 cups of cooked rice. When cooked, drain any excess liquid and spread the cooked rice out on a sheet pan to cool. The rice can be cooked ahead; a day or two before would be fine. Just keep it in the refrigerator in a covered container until ready to use.
Wash the bell peppers, and be sure to remove those pesky stickers. Make sure each pepper can sit-up by itself. If it leans over, gently trim a bit off the bottom so it will sit up fairly straight. Don’t go crazy with this step…you are just looking for the peppers to not fall over when stuffed!
Slice off the top ½-inch of each pepper top. (That’s the end with the stem.)
Pour a couple of teaspoons of olive oil into your palm and rub each pepper lightly with oil inside and out.
Line a roasting pan with a square of parchment paper or foil and lay the peppers upside down and upright on the pan. Roast for 10-15 minutes or until the peppers have just begun to soften.
Remove pan from oven, turn peppers over and leave to cool at room temperature.
While peppers are roasting, remove stems (if any) from each cut ‘pepper-top’. *
Cut the tops into small pieces and dice these pieces into roughly the same size as the diced onions and celery.
Heat a medium-sized Dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is hot, but not smoking, add the diced vegetables: the onions, celery and the peppers. Add a couple pinches of salt and stir to combine. Cook over medium-low heat until the vegetables have softened. Add the mashed garlic and the ground spices: the cumin, chili powder and black pepper (and cayenne if using!). Stir well to combine.
Add the ground beef to the pan. Stir to break-up the meat and cook thoroughly. To the pan, add the tomatoes, black beans, corn kernels and ketchup. Using a large spoon, break up the plum tomatoes into smaller pieces. (You won’t have to do this if you are using diced tomatoes.) Reduce heat to low.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Add the cooked rice and 4 ounces of the cheese. Stir thoroughly to combine.
Stuff each pepper with a portion of the filling you have just made. (Keep the peppers on the parchment or foil and there will be less stuck-on cheese to scrape off later.)
Of course, the size of your peppers will determine how much filling will be used. I made this recipe with the 3-inch, medium-sized bell peppers and had sufficient stuffing for 8 bell peppers.
Sprinkle the stuffed peppers with the remaining 2-ounces of grated cheese. Return pan to the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the peppers registers 160 degrees F.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or scallions and serve each pepper with a ladleful of steaming marinara sauce.